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Opportune time to change business model

Published: 
Saturday, January 6, 2018

For years I’ve heard talk about how unprofitable the International Soca Monarch was. I’ve never heard anything of the like about the Chutney Soca Monarch, but it does make sense to hear that it is/was in the same position. I also look at the heavy subsidies being put into these fetes through sponsorships by alcohol companies, government Ministries (in the past) and other types of companies.

I see the same types of sponsorships for carnival bands, when I see photos or hear talk from friends about their gift bags received with their costumes. I have never played mas, so I have no first-hand information here.

Hearing that the Chutney Soca Monarch was cancelled because of the absence of government funding, however, was bittersweet news to me. My emotional brain said that the show was a high point for many of my friends and colleagues (among others) but my logical brain said that if the country had to make a choice of what to spend its little resources on, something like soca can’t top the list.

Yesterday morning, I awoke to news that the government was indeed going to sponsor the event, and the event’s organisers announced that due to this sponsorship, the event was back on, with semi-finals to be held within two weeks.

While I am happy about the event being on again, I believe, however, that this was an opportunity, rather than a reason for lament. I think that we still have an opportunity before us.

Some of the world’s greatest companies were formed during times of economic depression. They learned how to cut over-expenditure, and keep scarce resources for important things—and maintain profitability.

Our private sector has mainly done this. So why shouldn’t cultural products such as Soca Monarch and Chutney Soca Monarch be any different? Beyond their contribution to society, many see them as private enterprise—and indeed they are privately owned.

I am confident that these cultural entrepreneurs can find excellent advice from professionals in their field of entertainment business, on various options for finding a profitable business model for these endeavours, or to adjust the current model to do so.

Perhaps this year should be a warning, sounded to several of our entertainment business men and women, that basing your business on government subsidies may not be the best model for non-essential businesses.

I look forward to seeing a change to the models though I suspect there is little chance that there will swiftly be a change in these businesses to find a more sustainable model.

MAURICE BURKE
SAN JUAN